Friday, October 9, 2009

Alien Trespass

Here’s an unusual film. Back in the 1950s, there were a number of movies released in the “bug-eyed monsters” sub-genre. Starting with It Came From Outer Space (a strong influence here), the plot was generally something along the lines of creepy alien crash lands near a small town, then goes on a killing rampage before local scientists/teens find the BEM’s weakness and put an end to it. Alien Trespass is a loving homage to those films.

Noted astronomer Ted Lewis (Eric McCormack, TV’s Will and Grace) is a prominent astronomer living in quiet Mojave, California. While watching a meteor shower, he sees something come down that definitely isn’t a meteor. It turns out it was a spaceship carrying Urp, an intergalactic Marshal of sorts (Marshal Urp, get it?), who was transporting a dangerous creature called a Ghota as his prisoner (the movie’s running gag is a variation on “You’re looking for a goat?” which wears thin). The Ghota escapes, and Urp takes the body of astronomer Lewis and goes after him.

It seems the Ghota uses its tentacle to devour living things, leaving only a small puddle of goo behind. The Ghota will also begin dividing once it has consumed enough food, which will lead to the ultimate end of all life on earth. It’s up to Urp-in-Lewis’-body, along with a local waitress named Tammy, to spot it before that happens.

The people who made this movie did a great job making it look like a movie from the 50s. (It is supposed to be a “lost” film, recently rediscovered) They used a color saturation process, inspired by the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds, to give it the proper look, very vibrant, with the reds just slightly off. Although the only recognizable face in the cast other than McCormack is Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The X-Files), it is well acted. The cast also looks like they are in the 50s, as opposed to some films where it looks like modern actors pretending to be sock-hoppers.

The movie’s one big failure is that it is too accurate. In trying to make a movie seem like it was produced in 1955, the concentration on that aspect came at the expense of needed story elements. The Ghota is a bit too ridiculous to be truly scary to modern audiences, so the humor needs to carry the film, and it seems the film-makers were unwilling to make the characters or events ridiculous enough for comedy, since that would have been inappropriate for the era in which it was supposed to take place.

Although it falls a little flat, Alien Trespass is still a likeable movie, although it is best suited for viewers who enjoy a little nostalgia.

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